Summer is, unfortunately, coming to a close. I have about a month to see how far I can get on additional comprehensive exam readings, and, of course, I haven’t gotten through as much as I wanted to by this stage. I think that feeling is likely, to some degree, inevitable.
Being on a school schedule again allows for different travel and vacation opportunities. In previous years, working a more traditional schedule with a limited number of vacation days per year, one had to carefully budget time off, particularly where holidays are concerned. The schedule is definitely more self-structured, and I’m constantly reminded of how I felt as a graduate student years ago studying for an MA–I remember thinking, quite often, how much of a blessing a 9 to 5 job was. In many cases (not all, of course), it can be, to some degree, compartmentalized. Studying for a degree like this means that anytime, anywhere could be a studying opportunity–and, thus, anytime, anywhere could also be a lost opportunity. Throw in the fact that a self-structured schedule means that you could always be working, and you likely can’t stop thinking about working as a result, and extra time “off,” as they say, is more of a burden than a blessing.
This year, I thought more about what it meant to have moved so far away from my family and friends back in New England, and what that also meant for my partner, who moved here with me. My sister had a daughter last winter. My grandmother is well into her nineties now. And, for the first time, I realized that my parents, who truly mean the world to me, are also getting older. As for my partner, he has two young nephews, one of whom is only 3, and he doesn’t want to miss out on being a part of their lives as they grow up. This spring, I realized that if we didn’t plan to travel home to New England to visit our respective families this summer, we would likely not see them again until perhaps as late as Christmas. As a result, we decided that we needed to make that a priority, not only now, but in future years as well–as long as we are away (which, depending upon job prospects for me down the line, might be a long time).
We took a two-week whirlwind tour, visiting both of our families in different parts of New England. We did, however, take some time out for ourselves. We spent one night up in the White Mountains, and we spent four days out on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. We visited this former family vacation spot (for me) a few years ago, and Stephen really liked it. It was a great visit, and such a beautiful, peaceful place. Unlike other New England islands, like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, it has remained very accessible and open, and to some degree, affordable. It also has an amazing landscape.
The Mohegan Bluffs, on the southeastern side of the island, form an amazing landscape combining both beach and cliffs.
Block Island State Beach is worth a visit no matter what the weather.
Now, on to August.